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67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably Redgrave's greatest screen performance
In a classroom of a British public school modeled on Harrow, students are waiting for their classics master, Andrew Crocker-Harris. "I don't think the Crock gets a kick out of anything," says Taplow, one of the students. "In fact, I don't think he has any feelings at all. He's just dead, that's all...He can't hate people and he can't like people. And what's more, he...
Published on 14 Aug. 2007 by C. O. DeRiemer

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3.0 out of 5 stars The Browning Version (1951) DVD
The Browning Version, (1951) DVD. Acting , plot, v. good. Sound (speech) awful, not acceptable. Thinking of returning it, a shame. Audio recording in 1951 was better than that - I had an electronics business then and dealt greatly with tape recording. Results of recording then much superior to this disc.
could the problem lie w. transcription fr. tape to dvd and...
Published 21 months ago by autonomy


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67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably Redgrave's greatest screen performance, 14 Aug. 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Browning Version [1951] [DVD] (DVD)
In a classroom of a British public school modeled on Harrow, students are waiting for their classics master, Andrew Crocker-Harris. "I don't think the Crock gets a kick out of anything," says Taplow, one of the students. "In fact, I don't think he has any feelings at all. He's just dead, that's all...He can't hate people and he can't like people. And what's more, he doesn't like people to like him. If he'd give me a chance, I think I'd quite like him." "What"" says another student. "Well, I feel sorry for him, which is more or less the same thing, isn't it?"

Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave) is a middle-aged teacher, pedantic, precise, not so much dead inside as numb. He has taught 18 years at the school as the lower fifth classics master. He was once a brilliant scholar and could see a wonderful career as a teacher. His wife, Millie (Jean Kent), has become a shrew. She had her ambitions, too, and they eroded in the face of the couple's incompatibility. Millie longs for passion, intensity and respect; Crocker-Harris can provide none. His view of love has been almost platonic. It is apparent their intimate life has been nonexistent for years. "I may have been a brilliant scholar," Crocker-Harris says at one point, "but I was woefully ignorant of the facts of life." In this mix of frustration and deadened emotion is Frank Hunter (Nigel Patrick), the charming, smart upper fifth science master, a colleague of Crocker-Harris, who is cuckolding him.

The story takes place over two days at the end of term. Crocker-Harris is having to retire because of ill health. He'll be moving to a much smaller school, earning very little money, and is resigned to further failure. No one is particularly sorry to see him go, including the avuncular head of school, Frobisher (Wilfred Hyde-White), as supple as a snake. Crocker-Harris has no illusions left about himself. He says to the new teacher who will replace him next term, "I did try very hard to communicate to the boys...some of my own joy in the great literature of the past. Of course, I...I failed. As you will fail nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine times out of a thousand. But a single success can atone, more than atone, for all the failures in the world. And sometimes, very rarely, it is true, I had that success. That, of course, was in the early years."

Things come to a head when Taplow makes a gesture of friendship to Crocker-Harris. He gives his teacher a used copy of a verse translation of the Agamemnon, the Robert Browning version. Crocker-Harris' dull shell nearly breaks. Millie takes the gratuitous opportunity to say that Taplow was merely trying to curry favor. Hunter, long looking for a way to break off with Millie, sees the cracks that have appeared in Crocker-Harris. He is appalled at Millie. He discovers a greater appreciation for what destroyed Crocker-Harris' humanity, but also for what Crocker-Harris might have been. And Crocker-Harris finally faces his own feelings when he addresses the school and the boys at the end of term ceremony. The last scene we see is of Crocker-Harris walking across the school grounds, reading anew a verse translation of Agamemnon he had begun years ago and thrown out. Taplow found it and has given it back. He tells Crocker-Harris how exciting he thought it was after reading it, that it was like a real play with real people. Crocker-Harris, we believe, is beginning to rediscover what it is to be a teacher and a human being.

If any word characterizes this movie, it is restraint, and in the very best sense. Redgrave gives a superb performance as the repressed, sad Crocker-Harris. Only slowly do we see what has happened to him. Even then, as we learn more about his failures as a teacher and a husband, as pity turns into sympathy, the movie is careful not to make Millie a complete termagant. In many ways, she has become as sad and desolate as her husband. Terence Rattigan, the playwright, and Anthony Asquith, the director, have constructed a seamless story of apparent personal failure which, nonetheless, builds to a satisfying emotional ending. Redgrave, however, is what makes it work. His performance really is extraordinary.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars i hate giving my reviews titles!, 13 Dec. 2009
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This review is from: The Browning Version [1951] [DVD] (DVD)
Unfortunately I missed the first half hour of this due to the news [so I've just bought the DVD]. I liked it a lot more than the critics did. I don't think the apology at the end is out of character, I think the boys' reception of it is. I haven't read the Agamemnon for many years, so I don't know if there are relevant details in it, but the use of it without having too many parallels, such as Michael Redgrave's wife really killing him, made it far more universal.

I wrote the above about 10 years ago. I realise upon reading the reviews that précis aren't quite enough to describe this film. The key is to know the story of Agamemnon who "followed the rules" by sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia to Artemis in order to enforce the Trojan War, thereby doubly displaying a lack of humanity. The Browning version given as a gift simultaneously tells Redgrave's character what's wrong with him and reminds him that there was always an alternative path in life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Box of kleenex, 4 July 2011
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This review is from: The Browning Version [1951] [DVD] (DVD)
This is a classic with a capital "C". Initially, it seems that the characters are too stereotyped but then as the film develops the layers of the characters' personalities come to the fore. I would strongly recommend that you have a box of kleenex to hand both for the moments of sadness as well as the uplifting moments of joy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars classical brilliance, 7 Sept. 2012
This review is from: The Browning Version [1951] [DVD] (DVD)
'Wilson, you were late for chapel this morning'. Thus does the pedantic Crocker-Harris initiate his role. The characters are quite believable, even the serpentine headmaster who fluffs a pupil's name. The Browning version of the Agamemnon in fact does little credit to the Greek original, and its introduction is merely a ploy foe bringing Taplow into the picture. Despite the public school ambience the plot does have its flaws. No classics teacher would ever leave his school without a pension nor would such a qualified pedagogue end up teaching in a school for backward boys. The idea of one of its teachers playing in a test match for England also beggars belief. Public schools do employ ex-county cricketers as cricket coaches, and Dennis Silk even became a headmaster, but Bill Travers looks decidedly uncomfortable in the role of the popular sportsmaster. When the 'Crock' makes his apologetic speech in the crowded chapel we realise the sincerity which surrounds his failure as a teacher. But would any teacher, whether in a state or independent school, ever admit in full public view to being a failure ? I doubt it very much. One thing I would say is that Michael Redgrave who brought the Eric Portman stage role to the screen is far superior to Albert Finney who resembles a butcher rather than a teacher.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute perfection!, 28 April 2012
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This review is from: The Browning Version [1951] [DVD] (DVD)
This is the best British film of all time - bar none! Everything about it is perfect. The star of course made it memorable. It is a film one can watch umpteen times and always enjoy. It is filled with quotable lines and is the best thing the writer ever did. It is also very nostalgic. The DVD is also very good quality.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Himmler of the lower fifth, 28 Dec. 2008
By 
Peter Wade (Colchester England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Browning Version [1951] [DVD] (DVD)
'Himmler of the lower fifth'.

I hesitate to write a review as the first review is so brilliant but I will. I wrote review of the more recent Browning version but this is better.

It is about restraint but it is also about someone who follows the rules and becomes brilliant scholar then becomes a school teacher and follows the rules as the world changes around him.

he thinks by doing his duty that he will be a success but has no sense of humour. As a result he is not popular and becomes a figure of fun then of fear. His final speech against all the odds a triumph with the boys and the school as he admits he has failed.

As the previous reviewer so rightly say the main performance is restrained and masters of that time and class would regard it as being flashy or rude to draw attention to themselves and become popular which was what his contemporaries

When i was young I used to avoid any film that was based on a play because I knew there would be very little action and a lot of talking. Now I think entirely the opposite as I know that a play needs to be well constructed

Now if I see the words based on a true story I don't bother as usually the truth is far too boring and has no particular merit just because it is true.

It is a universal story as there are a lot more aspects to being brilliant than just being brilliant at your job.

It also reminds me of my school which although in the 60s and a state grammar school was housed initially in a very old building and used to have old traditions which it had aped from public schools like those depicted in the film. I had masters who did not spend any time currying favour with the pupils and just taught the way they had always taught.

A classic British film and a joy to watch.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent adaptation of Rattigan's play, 5 April 2013
By 
Andrew Finch "alwaysnow" (Daegu, Buk-ku Korea, Republic of) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Browning Version [1951] [DVD] (DVD)
Michael Redgrave excels here as Crocker Harris, a distinguished Classics scholar whose life has come to almost nothing during his 18 years as a teacher at a prep school. The film follows the original stage play quite closely and presents all the important references to Agamemnon, by Aeschylus, as translated by Browning. This earlier Greek tragedy (the Crock tells us that this was perhaps the greatest play ever written) is actually mirrored in this play, as Harris himself falls under the treatment of his unfaithful wife. Rattigan thus appropriates the original Greek tragedy in the plot as well as mentioning it and quoting from it.

The acting in this version is superb (lots of familiar faces, including Wilfred Hyde White), as the Director (son of Prime Minister Asquith) recreates the shape, sound, and atmosphere of an English public school. There is so much implicit sub text in this that only actors like Redgrave, who have been through the system, can portray it with such veracity. As with Redgrave's "Importance of Being Earnest", this is the classic version.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great film - pity no subtitles. A masterpiece of British cinema., 4 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: The Browning Version [1951] [DVD] (DVD)
This older film version is far superior to the more recent colour version with Albert Finney. The black and white original is an honest film adaptation of the stage play. Repeated viewings enhance my understanding of Rattigan's conceit in comparing the situation of the schoolmaster, betrayed by his wife, with the Greek tragedy which the schoolmaster is trying to teach to his pupils. The schoolmaster's wife emulates in modern terms the vicious behaviour portrayed in the
Greek classic drama.

This film version, though black and white, is far more moving than the vulgarized screen play foisted onto Albert Finney, where mixing modern schoolboy attitudes with a muddled updated portrayal of public school teaching simply rings false. An interesting clanger in the colour version is idiotic subtitling referring to Classical Greek spoken by the characters as Latin.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing performance, a moving film, 12 Jun. 2011
By 
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Browning Version [1951] [DVD] (DVD)
While there is some creakiness and overacting in the sub-plots,
Michael Redgrave's amazing performance as a repressed, unliked,
and unlikable school teacher spending his last day at work before
being forced into retirement makes the story ultimately riveting
and moving.

And while some of the writing is a bit florid, some it is also very
incisive and powerful.

This is yet another Anthony Asquith film that could be said to be
dated and theatrical, and yet overcomes those shortcomings with
great central performances and nuanced direction to be something
quite special.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a Crocker!, 24 Feb. 2013
This review is from: The Browning Version [1951] [DVD] (DVD)
Rattigan's brilliant and significant one-act play is very well opened-up and soberly directed (appropriately) so it is a proper film with convincing performances throughout. The repressed homosexuality is never more than hinted at in the 'different kinds of love' Crocker-Harris discusses with aptly named 'Hunter'. Polished, and moving many times over - if this was a French film from the 50s, it would be much more admired by the cognoscenti. But of course they are not into 'repression' (the French or the CG!)as it is always unfashionable. A quietly brave film.
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The Browning Version [1951] [DVD]
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